MAY 14 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (“the Commission”) welcomes the recent proposal by the Ministry of Education Malaysia that schools will be given more authority in managing and addressing disciplinary issues among students as part of an amendment to the Education (School Discipline) Regulations 1959.
However, the Commission is deeply concerned that such methods will include corporal punishment, particularly since the Child (Amendment) Bill 2015 now substitutes the punishment of whipping on male child offenders with community service instead.
The Commission is of the view that there is a mistaken belief held not only by individuals, but is also widespread in various societies and endorsed at Government level that corporal punishment is an effective form of discipline for children.
Numerous research has shown that corporal punishment in school causes children to lose interest in learning and can lead to lifelong psychological damage.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that Malaysia ratified in 1995 explicitly requires states to protect children from all forms of physical or mental violence (Article 19) and from torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Article 37). More importantly, the CRC in Article 28(2) requires that school discipline be administered in a manner consistent with the child’s human dignity and in conformity with the Convention.
Further, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, in its concluding observations in 2007, urged Malaysia to prohibit by law all forms of corporal punishment in the home, and to immediately abolish all forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments, including caning and other forms of corporal punishment imposed on persons having committed a crime when under the age of 18 years and as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions, among others.
In line with the Committee’s recommendations, the Commission calls on the government to fully protect and defend the rights of children, to reject such disreputable forms of punishment for children, and give full respect to the dignity of children; as well as to be diligent as regards meeting its international human rights obligations, consistent with the CRC.
The Commission also advises parents, teachers and care-givers to use positive discipline strategies in their upbringing of children which reject the use of corporal and/or physical punishment.
* Media statement issued by Suhakam secretary Rodziah Abdul on May 14, 2016.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.